'Dancing with the Stars' Judges

Paula Abdul guest judges on Week Four of dancing with the stars. (October 16, 2012)

Oh boy. Tonight's the night we get Paula Abdul as a guest judge. She always annoyed me on American Idol - will I find her less tiresome here? I don't doubt her credibility, she's arguably more a dancer than a singer.

During the staircase introductions: Val gets introduced by his full first name of "Valentin." I wonder if he asked for that or if Tom's having fun.

Brooke tells us lifts will be allowed tonight - get ready to meet the harsh reality that is gravity during rehearsals.

They introduce Paula with an interview clip and then back in the ballroom she says a lot of stuff that doesn't make a lot of sense. So… the usual.

Kirstie Alley &  Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Charleston, as chosen by Sabrina and Louis

Kirstie doesn't want to play this week's dance for laughs, she wants to do a challenging dance that shows off her skills.

They start with Kirstie popping out of a giant cake, which I'll take as a slight homage to "Singin' in the Rain" and Debbie Reynolds's classic number. It's a smart move because it takes up a lot of time at the beginning so Kirstie won't get worn out by the high energy Charleston. The routine has a lot of fun moves and even a sense of humor. Technically I don't know that it was good but it was charming.

Len talks about how fun it was. Paula talks about how Kirstie looks, just like she did Idol contestants. Bruno makes the "Singin' in the Rain" comparison, too! Carrie compliments her looks and then gives some actual dancing critique.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 7.5; Len: 7.5; Bruno: 7.5; Paula: 7.5

For all the judges' talk about how good that was, those scores are lower than the eights she got last week.

Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas
Rock ‘n’ Roll, as chosen by no one (since they were the last and just got what was left)

Bristol thought the routine was going to be more [devil's horns] rock n roll, but Mark explains it going to be more "sock hop." They finally reuse the footage of Mark and Bristol dancing in the gorilla suits. I still can't believe that actually happened. Mark talks about "dumbing down" the routine because of Bristol's lack of confidence. See, right there - that's part of my problem with her - my favorite contestants on DWTS are the ones that just go for broke and aren't worried about being goofy or whatever.

As it is, even with a dumbed down routine it looks like Bristol misses a lot of steps and makes more than one wrong turn during the routine. This looks like the first day of rehearsals, not show time.

Paula sees improvement and congratulates Mark for trying to push Bristol to challenge herself.  Bruno says she "hit every step" and SHE SO DID NOT. I mean, without rewinding I can tell you at least three times she screwed up. Carrie Ann gives her a high five. Len says it was her "best dance so far."

Can we nominate these judges for acting awards at the next Emmys? They've just done a darn good job of pretending that wasn't utterly awful.

Scores: Carrie Ann: 8 Len: 8; Bruno: 8; Paula: 8

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That was NOT better than Kirstie's.

Sabrina Bryan &  Louis van Amstel
Disco, as chosen by Kirstie and Maks

Sabrina comes out wearing a blue coat she stole from Phyllis Diller's estate. And Phyllis skinned a Muppet back in the 70s to make it.

This is high energy, like a disco should be, but I'm spoiled by the disco routines on So You Think You Can Dance and want to see more lifts.  The lifts they do are impressive, except for when Louis almost drops her on the final pose.